Thailand elects first transgender MP

Filmmaker and MP Tanwarin Sukkhapisit.
Thailand’s very first elections since its military coup in 2014 have welcomed its very first transgender Member of Parliament (MP).

Filmmaker Tanwarin Sukkhapisit has made history by becoming the first transgender MP to be elected in Thailand on Sunday March 24. Sukkhapisit ran as a candidate under the newly founded Future Forward Party, which, according to quotes in the Bangkok Post, is swiftly growing to be the country’s third-largest political party.

“Thank you for the hope of everyone who believes that we still want a new, good future together. Thank you from this little bisexual heart,” said Sukkhapisit, who identifies as bisexual and transgender, in a Facebook post.

Sukkhapisit had been embroiled in a five-year legal battle for her 2010 film Insects in the Backyard, which had been banned locally for moral indecency and for being “against public morals”.

Sukkhapisit had agreed to cut a nude scene, but her experience with censorship, which made her feel “like a terrorist”, was the driving force behind her move into politics.

“I want to be a person who represents the minority people in Thailand because for me – LGBT people – we have not the right to marry in a same-sex marriage”.

She told Voice of America, “Legally, by law, we cannot adopt children”.

Sukkhapisit made it clear that with her newly elected position she wants to fight for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Thailand.

“We hope to amend it [section 1448 of the Civil and Commercial Code] to say any two persons can be married,” she said speaking about her political ambitions. If this can be fixed, it would remove a barrier and open the doors to many other things.”

Sukkhapisit also happened to be running alongside fellow transgender candidate Pauline Ngarmpring of the Machachon Party, who had aimed for the seat of Prime Minister.

“I know having my candidancy is a symbolic gesture. I know I will not be Prime Minister now,” Ngarmpring said.

“But we hope we will get some seats and represent LBGT people in the country. And perhaps next time, even a transgender woman will have a chance.”

Sukkhapisit’s victory came ahead of International Transgender Day of Visibility, marked around the world on March 31.